In this article, we will talk about closures and curried functions and we'll play around with these concepts to build cool abstractions. I want to show the idea behind each concept, but also make it very practical with examples and refactored code to make it more fun.


Closures are a common topic in JavaScript, and it's the one we'll start with. According to MDN:

A closure is the combination of a function bundled together (enclosed) with references to its surrounding state (the lexical environment).

Basically, every time a function is created, a closure is also created and it gives access to the state (variables, constants, functions, and so on). The surrounding state is known as the lexical environment.

Let's show a simple example:

function makeFunction() {
  const name = 'TK';
  function displayName() {
  return displayName;

What do we have here?

  • Our main function is called makeFunction
  • A constant named name is assigned with the string, 'TK'
  • The definition of the displayName function (which just logs the name constant)
  • And finally, makeFunction returns the displayName function

This is just a definition of a function. When we call the makeFunction, it will create everything within it: a constant and another function, in this case.

As we know, when the displayName function is created, the closure is also created and it makes the function aware of its environment, in this case, the name constant. This is why we can console.log the name constant without breaking anything. The function knows about the lexical environment.

const myFunction = makeFunction();
myFunction(); // TK

Great! It works as expected. The return value of makeFunction is a function that we store in the myFunction constant. When we call myFunction, it displays TK.

We can also make it work as an arrow function:

const makeFunction = () => {
  const name = 'TK';
  return () => console.log(name);

But what if we want to pass the name and display it? Simple! Use a parameter:

const makeFunction = (name = 'TK') => {
  return () => console.log(name);

// Or as a one-liner
const makeFunction = (name = 'TK') => () => console.log(name);

Now we can play with the name:

const myFunction = makeFunction();
myFunction(); // TK

const myFunction = makeFunction('Dan');
myFunction(); // Dan

myFunction is aware of the argument that's passed in, and whether it's a default or dynamic value.

The closure makes sure the created function is not only aware of the constants/variables, but also other functions within the function.

So this also works:

const makeFunction = (name = 'TK') => {
  const display = () => console.log(name);
  return () => display();

const myFunction = makeFunction();
myFunction(); // TK

The returned function knows about the display function and is able to call it.

One powerful technique is to use closures to build "private" functions and variables.

Months ago I was learning data structures (again!) and wanted to implement each one. But I was always using the object oriented approach. As a functional programming enthusiast, I wanted to build all the data structures following FP principles (pure functions, immutability, referential transparency, etc.).

The first data structure I was learning was the Stack. It is pretty simple. The main API is:

  • push: add an item to the first place of the stack
  • pop: remove the first item from the stack
  • peek: get the first item from the stack
  • isEmpty: verify if the stack is empty
  • size: get the number of items the stack has

We could clearly create a simple function to each "method" and pass the stack data to it. It could then use/transform the data and return it.

But we can also create a stack with private data and only expose the API methods. Let's do this!

const buildStack = () => {
  let items = [];

  const push = (item) => items = [item, ...items];
  const pop = () => items = items.slice(1);
  const peek = () => items[0];
  const isEmpty = () => !items.length;
  const size = () => items.length;

  return {

Because we created the items stack inside our buildStack function, it is "private". It can be accessed only within the function. In this case, only push, pop, and so one could touch the data. This is exactly what we're looking for.

And how do we use it? Like this:

const stack = buildStack();

stack.isEmpty(); // true

stack.push(1); // [1]
stack.push(2); // [2, 1]
stack.push(3); // [3, 2, 1]
stack.push(4); // [4, 3, 2, 1]
stack.push(5); // [5, 4, 3, 2, 1]

stack.peek(); // 5
stack.size(); // 5
stack.isEmpty(); // false

stack.pop(); // [4, 3, 2, 1]
stack.pop(); // [3, 2, 1]
stack.pop(); // [2, 1]
stack.pop(); // [1]

stack.isEmpty(); // false
stack.peek(); // 1
stack.pop(); // []
stack.isEmpty(); // true
stack.size(); // 0

So, when the stack is created, all the functions are aware of the items data. But outside the function, we can't access this data. It's private. We just modify the data by using the stack's builtin API.


"Currying is the process of taking a function with multiple arguments and turning it into a sequence of functions each with only a single argument."
- Frontend Interview

So imagine you have a function with multiple arguments: f(a, b, c). Using currying, we achieve a function f(a) that returns a function g(b) that returns a function h(c).

Basically: f(a, b, c) —> f(a) => g(b) => h(c)

Let's build a simple example that adds two numbers. But first, without currying:

const add = (x, y) => x + y;
add(1, 2); // 3

Great! Super simple! Here we have a function with two arguments. To transform it into a curried function we need a function that receives x and returns a function that receives y and returns the sum of both values.

const add = (x) => {
  function addY(y) {
    return x + y;

  return addY;

We can refactor addY into a anonymous arrow function:

const add = (x) => {
  return (y) => {
    return x + y;

Or simplify it by building one liner arrow functions:

const add = (x) => (y) => x + y;

These three different curried functions have the same behavior: build a sequence of functions with only one argument.

How can we use it?

add(10)(20); // 30

At first, it can look a bit strange, but there's a logic behind it. add(10) returns a function. And we call this function with the 20 value.

This is the same as:

const addTen = add(10);
addTen(20); // 30

And this is interesting. We can generate specialized functions by calling the first function. Imagine we want an increment function. We can generate it from our add function by passing 1 as the value.

const increment = add(1);
increment(9); // 10

When I was implementing Lazy Cypress, an npm library to record user behavior on a form page and generate Cypress testing code, I wanted to build a function to generate this string input[data-testid="123"]. So I had the element (input), the attribute (data-testid), and the value (123). Interpolating this string in JavaScript would look like this: ${element}[${attribute}="${value}"].

My first implementation was to receive these three values as parameters and return the interpolated string above:

const buildSelector = (element, attribute, value) =>

buildSelector('input', 'data-testid', 123); // input[data-testid="123"]

And it was great. I achieved what I was looking for.

But at the same time, I wanted to build a more idiomatic function. Something where I could write "Get element X with attribute Y and value Z". So if we break this phrase into three steps:

  • "get an element X": get(x)
  • "with attribute Y": withAttribute(y)
  • "and value Z": andValue(z)

We can transform buildSelector(x, y, z) into get(x)withAttribute(y)andValue(z) by using the currying concept.

const get = (element) => {
  return {
    withAttribute: (attribute) => {
      return {
        andValue: (value) => `${element}[${attribute}="${value}"]`,

Here we use a different idea: returning an object with function as key-value. Then we can achieve this syntax: get(x).withAttribute(y).andValue(z).

And for each returned object, we have the next function and argument.

Refactoring time! Remove the return statements:

const get = (element) => ({
  withAttribute: (attribute) => ({
    andValue: (value) => `${element}[${attribute}="${value}"]`,

I think it looks prettier. And here's how we use it:

const selector = get('input')

selector; // input[data-testid="123"]

The andValue function knows about the element and attribute values because it is aware of the lexical environment like with closures that we talked about before.

We can also implement functions using "partial currying" by separating the first argument from the rest for example.

After doing web development for a long time, I am really familiar with the event listener Web API. Here's how to use it:

const log = () => console.log('clicked');
button.addEventListener('click', log);

I wanted to create an abstraction to build specialized event listeners and use them by passing the element and a callback handler.

const buildEventListener = (event) => (element, handler) => element.addEventListener(event, handler);

This way I can create different specialized event listeners and use them as functions.

const onClick = buildEventListener('click');
onClick(button, log);

const onHover = buildEventListener('hover');
onHover(link, log);

With all these concepts, I could create an SQL query using JavaScript syntax. I wanted to query JSON data like this:

const json = {
  "users": [
      "id": 1,
      "name": "TK",
      "age": 25,
      "email": ""
      "id": 2,
      "name": "Kaio",
      "age": 11,
      "email": ""
      "id": 3,
      "name": "Daniel",
      "age": 28,
      "email": ""

So I built a simple engine to handle this implementation:

const startEngine = (json) => (attributes) => ({ from: from(json, attributes) });

const buildAttributes = (node) => (acc, attribute) => ({ ...acc, [attribute]: node[attribute] });

const executeQuery = (attributes, attribute, value) => (resultList, node) =>
  node[attribute] === value
    ? [...resultList, attributes.reduce(buildAttributes(node), {})]
    : resultList;

const where = (json, attributes) => (attribute, value) =>
    .reduce(executeQuery(attributes, attribute, value), []);

const from = (json, attributes) => (node) => ({ where: where(json[node], attributes) });

With this implementation, we can start the engine with the JSON data:

const select = startEngine(json);

And use it like a SQL query:

select(['id', 'name'])
  .where('id', 1);

result; // [{ id: 1, name: 'TK' }]

That's it for today. I could go on and on showing you a lot of different examples of abstractions, but I'll let you play with these concepts.

You can other articles like this on my blog.

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